Tomato gazpacho

Nothing shouts SUMMER like a fabulous chilled bowl (or cup) of gazpacho. Gazpacho is a chilled raw tomato-based soup that hails from Spain and Portugal – although some say that before that, it likely had Arabic roots. In any case, it’s a delicious, refreshing soup that fares well as a mid-afternoon snack, cocktail hors d’oeuvres, or appetizer. Even better, it’s incredibly simple to make. That said, note that this soup does need to chill for at least 2 hours, so if you’re crunched for time to serve something right away, it may not be the best soup to make.

Ingredients:

  • 14 large tomatoes
  • 1 green capsicum pepper
  • 1 red capsicum pepper
  • 1 red chili pepper, deseeded (unless you want your soup quite spicy)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 large basil leaves, fresh
  • 1 lime, fully squeezed
  • 2 slices of bread (wheat-based is best, but really, you can use any kind), toasted
  • 2 tablespoons of oliver oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey

Optional Garnish:

  • Mint leaves OR
  • Baby cucumbers, thinly sliced

The most labour-intensive part of making this soup is de-skinning the tomatos, which is actually isn’t all that bad, just slightly tedious with so many tomatoes. What you’ll need is a pot of boiling water and a bowl of cold water. First score an “X” into the bottoms of all your tomatoes, and remove the stems, if they’re still attached. Once your tomatoes are ready, put them into the pot a few at a time, depending on how large your pot is, for about 10 to 15 seconds and then place them directly into the cold water bath. Do this with all of your tomatoes. What should happen is the tomato skins get cooked and peel away from the flesh of the fruit – from there, it should be fairly easy to peel all the skins from the tomatoes.

Next, coarsely chop the tomatoes and set them aside. Some recipes will tell you to remove the seeds as well – it’s up to you, if you want a smoother soup, remove the seeds. I personally prefer to leave them in for a little added texture. They get pureed with the rest of the ingredients, so no one’s ever crunching on seeds anyway. Next, deseed and chop up the capsicum peppers and chili pepper, and remove the skin from the garlic clove.

Throw your tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and basil into your food processor or a deep pot or bowl, if you’re using a hand blender. I actually prefer using a hand blender for this, because I can more closely monitor the consistency of the soup. That said, the hand blender does take a little longer though.

If you’re using a hand blender, blend your tomatoes first, as they’re softer and then throw in your other ingredients to blend further. As a tip, keeping the base of the blender submerged and parallel to the bottom of your bowl or pot will mean less splashing and the blender will actually pull the ingredients in towards it, so you really don’t need to move it around very much.

Once everything is fully blended, throw in your toasted bread into the soup, and add the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, and honey. Blend this mixture until the consistency of the soup is smooth and everything is evenly mixed through.

Now chill. To make sure it’s chilled properly, you’re going to need to leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once it’s ready, scoop it into bowls or mugs – I like using margarita or martini glasses for fun presentation. If you like, you can garnish with a mint leaf, or thin cucumber slice.

Voilà! Enjoy your hot summer treat!

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